It’s fair to say that the attendees of the Goodwood Festival of Speed are a broad church, and nothing better illustrates this than a walk around any of its many, many parking lots – necessary to corral the steeds of 40,000 visitors per day.
There’s an allocated supercar parking area, but in many ways the regular parking lots are more interesting. Those who book their cars into supercar parking all have one thing in common – that they think their car is something special. Those who are happy to park among the schmucks are more interesting, and their tastes are more diverse – I walked past an NSX and a DeLorean when I didn’t have my camera. Here are six car park gems that shows the rich variety of Goodwood off to a tee.
A Belgian-registered Porsche 356B. An absolutely beautiful example of the breed, having travelled by land and sea to visit Goodwood. It’s worth a vast sum of money but not especially comfortable to travel in – making that kind of journey in this kind of car requires determination, pride, and a good deal of mechanical trust.
This is the Hillman Minx as the lede image, and it quite took me aback when I saw it. From its position towards the gate in parking lot S, it must have been one of the first cars to arrive – suggesting a very eager spirit. The car itself is delightfully shambolic, with pitted chrome and surface rust breaking out all over. It looks to be all-orginal, and bears the honest scars of fifty-four years of hard graft.
This is a Vauxhall Carlton, the UK version of the ’86-93 Opel Omega. I always loved the shape of these, especially in this speedy GSI3000 24V format. These were quick cars, and have become rare for two particular reasons. Firstly – Rust. As the lower doors and front wing on this one confirms, although there are other cars of the era that were more prone to rot, once it sets in few Carltons ever got fixed, such was their low value. Secondly, lots of GSIs became the basis of Lotus Carlton replicas – the majority of which were absolutely hopeless.
This is a Pontiac Firebird Formula. The UK registration checker confirms it’s a V8, thank goodness. Owning one of these in the UK, where it was never officially sold, marks you out as either a US serviceman who wants to retain a taste of home, or an eccentric. At least this one has been kept factory standard and hasn’t fallen victim to “I can’t help myself” customizing that sees so many American cars encrusted with additional chrome, quasi-patriotic paint jobs and obnoxious horns. It’s ‘only’ a Firebird, but its owner loves it.
I love a shabby Jaguar, and this one is particularly shabby. I didn’t have my camera handy when I walked past it at Goodwood, but I was delighted to find it in the parking lot of Sainsbury’s, where I went to pick up sustenance for my overnight car camping. The jag has a wholly inappropriate Jaguar leaper, but I’ll forgive that for the quad exhaust setup around the back. I didn’t hear this XJ8 running, but I suspect it isn’t whisper-quiet.
This, though, extols the singular nature of the Goodwood visitor more crisply than any of the cars above. Its an immaculately maintained and presented Lada Riva, subtly modified with a set of alloy wheels and some clear rear lamps, the likes of which I’ve never seen before. Who knows what other modifications lie beneath the skin.
The Lada Riva was one of the most derided cars ever to be sold in the UK. Not even its extreme cheapness was enough for reviewers to overlook its failings, and its value-hunting buyers were, it’s agreed in hindsight, misguided. As underdogs go, then, it’s almost unparalleled, and the owner of this one clearly dotes on it. Choosing to love a Lada is rather more ‘against the grain’ than fixating on a Ferrari. It denotes passion, and that lies at the very core of Goodwood.
(All images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2017)